Maternal Sensitivity in Mother-Infant Interactions for Infants with and without Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Nash, Jennifer Michelle
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Objective: To examine maternal sensitivity behaviors in mothers of infants ages 6-15 months with and without prenatal alcohol exposure in response to a developmental social stress paradigm. Background: Children with PAE are at high risk for negative mother-child interactions, which can affect the quality of maternal and child relationship and child social-emotional development. Maternal behavior characteristics such as being stable, predictable, and responsive are known to facilitate more positive and satisfying mother-child relationships and healthy child development. Understanding the quality of interactions between high-risk dyads is important to investigate as a means to identify mothers and children who may need supportive early intervention services to enhance the parent-child relationship. Participants: Nine infants with moderate-heavy PAE (age 10.7 ± 3.1 months, 77% female) and nine control infants (age 10.7 ± 2.9 months, 44% female) completed the study. All mothers in the study were biological caregivers. Mothers of infants with moderate to heavy PAE were recruited from local treatment centers, all were in recovery or receiving substance abuse treatment. Comparison group mothers were recruited by word of mouth. Both were convenience samples. Setting The study was conducted in a local children's hospital as part of a larger study. Design: This was a descriptive 2 group comparison sub-study completed as part of an IRB approved pilot study exploring biobehavioral regulatory functions in infants with moderate to heavy PAE. Measures: Video recorded maternal and infant behaviors were coded by a rater masked to group status using 1) the Infant and Caregiver Engagement Phases (ICEP) and 2) the Coding Interactive Behavior (CIB) during a play and reunion episode of the Still Face Paradigm, an established infant social stress protocol. Data analysis included estimated proportions of maternal engagement behaviors (positive, negative and neutral) as measured by the ICEP, a group comparison of maternal sensitivity behaviors as measured by the CIB using the Mann-Whitney U test, and a group comparison of estimated proportions of matched/mismatched maternal and child behaviors on the ICEP. Results: Positive engagement behaviors and similar levels of matched/mismatched dyadic interactions were noted for both groups on the ICEP. The CIB revealed statistically significant group differences (p < .05) on six of nine behaviors measuring maternal sensitivity. Together these findings suggest that the mothers of infants with PAE had strengths in engaging their children in positive ways, but they had some challenges or differences in the quality of their interactions with their child such as reading infant cues in a sensitive manner.